I read Chasing Brooklyn, Lisa Schroeder‘s latest novel in verse, on Friday. I couldn’t put it down. As usual, Lisa gets right to the emotional core of the story. Brooklyn’s boyfriend was killed in a car crash a year ago, and now the friend who was driving the car is dead, too, an apparent suicide. The friend begins haunting Brooklyn’s dreams, and the dead boyfriend begins urging his brother to reach out to Brooklyn–but why? The brother doesn’t know.
The novel is narrated in poems from both Brooklyn’s and Nico’s (that’s the brother) point of view. What I love about novels in verse, I think, is their intensity. We get to be right inside the fear, despair, hope, insecurity, happiness, and guilt of the characters–without wading through 400 pages of character description. I confess that I’m not big on "character study" novels. They usually bore me. I want things to happen.
But character studies in the form of verse novels work really well to me. Because everything is so stripped down, there’s room for emotions and actions and that’s about it. Not much background. Not a lot of daily living kind of stuff. All of that is telescoped into one or two mentions in poems. Instead the main characters (living and dead) interact with each other and spill themselves onto the page. And I was there to greedily mop up each poem, tumbling forward to find out what would happen next and how Brooklyn and Nico would feel about it.